Disney+ Subscribers Abroad Get Major New Movie Way Before US Customers

An odd confluence of events in Hollywood means that Disney+ subscribers in some international markets now have access to Free Guy at no additional cost. The action-comedy starring Ryan Reynolds was just released this summer (though, as snarkists online are quick to point out, it has been delayed many times.) In a matter of weeks, some will be able to stream the movie for the cost of a Disney+ subscription.

Free Guy is tied up in a unique deal between 20th Century Fox, Disney and HBO. According to a report by Variety, Fox and HBO have a home video release deal going back four decades, and it was extended in 2012. Since then, 20th Century Fox was acquired by Disney, so although Disney might prefer to release movies on its own platforms, it is still beholden to the old contract with HBO. That means movies like Free Guy must go to WarnerMedia — at least, in the U.S. Somehow, that deal does not apply in international markets.

"We acquired Free Guy under a different distribution assumption and set of agreements," explained Disney CEO Bob Chapek. "We don't have the degree of freedom to a do a [Disney+ Premier Access release] on Free Guy."

The situation with Free Guy is further complicated by the fact that it began development before Disney acquired Fox. Whatever the case, it cannot stop users in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand from streaming the movie on Disney+ starting this week.

As for Americans, Free Guy will most likely be available to them starting on HBO Max, not Disney+. When exactly that release may come is anyone's guess - Free Guy got a theatrical-only release back in August in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic. It may even have to go through the motions of a DVD and Blu-ray release before it joins a subscription streaming service.

The movie is, however, available on-demand through digital stores like Amazon Prime Video, VUDU and Apple TV. It costs about @20 to purchase on those platforms and is not available to rent. Given the recent $30 price tag on Disney+ Premier Access releases, this is a relatively easy pill to swallow.

Whether or not Free Guy itself is worth it is another matter altogether. The movie is a parody of video game tropes starring Reynolds as a sentient non-player character (NPC) in a fictional video game. The reviews so far are middling to positive, but many movie fans have yet to see it for themselves and weigh in.